Headlines: April 19th, 2002

After the good news of a six per cent real annual increase in social services budgets, local authorities have now been directed towards how it will be used.They’ve been warned to use the money to stabilise home care services to avoid hospital bed-blocking – otherwise they will be forced to pay for the costs.

The Government says that this new ‘incentivising’ plan is on offer instead of imposing structural reorganisation or nationally ringfenced budgets.

There will be a matching charge on NHS hospitals to make them responsible for the costs of emergency readmissions, so as to ensure patients are not discharged prematurely.

DTLR Secretary Stephen Byers says the changes reflect thinking at Whitehall that it isn’t always money that causes bed blocking, but ‘fundamental flaws’ in the way in which the services have been delivered.